Brimful with brooding psychological torment, Kokoro is vintage Kon Ichikawa (An Actor’s Revenge, The Burmese Harp, Tokyo Olympiad). Based on a novel by celebrated Japanese author Natsume Soseki, the director foregrounds its themes of individual isolation and social estrangement, most notably in a central protagonist stricken by existential demons and stranded by changing times.
Why does Nobuchi (Masayuki Mori) visit the grave of his old friend Kaji (Tatsuya Mihashi)? Why is he so secretive with his wife Shizu (Michiyo Aratama)? And how does Nobuchi’s friendship with the young student Hioki (Shoji Yasui) – for whom the older man acts as reluctant sensei – relate to his time with Kaji? As the Meiji Era draws to a close with the emperor’s death and the suicide of General Nogi, a fateful tale of tainted love, failed friendship, and redemptive honour unravels with tragic consequences.
Though sometimes overlooked in the director’s impressive oeuvre, Ichikawa’s profoundly beautiful rendering of Soseki’s novel is a considerable work of cinema in its own right. —Eureka Entertainment
Born on November 20, 1915, in Ujiyamada, Mie Prefecture, Ichikawa first gained western recognition during the 1950s and 60s with several bleak films, particularly two acclaimed antiwar films, The Burmese Harp and Fires on the Plain.
Ichikawa began his career as a cartoonist, and collaborated with his wife, screenwriter Natto WADA, until 1965. His films are generally regarded as dark and bleak, interspersed with sparks of humanity, and he often intertwines comedy and tragedy within the same story. He also has a flair for technical expertise, irony, detachment, and a drive for realism across all genres. After Akira KUROSAWA’s departure, no other Japanese director has come close to Ichikawa’s level of recognition, the power of his films, and commercial success.
Ichikawa passed away on February 13, 2008. At age 91 (2006), he was still active as a director, completing a feature-length film, The Inugamis, and directing one segment of the Japanese fantasy, Ten Nights of Dream… read more
Another masterpiece that prove how well and uniquely, Ichikawa could capture the human nature with sensitiveness and beauty.
Predominantly set at the end of the Meiji period at the beginning of the 20th Century, this brooding drama from Ichikawa deserves to be more well known and should be essential viewing for all fans of Japanese cinema. Starring in his second brilliant film of 1955 - the other being Naruse's Floating Clouds - Masayuki Mori is perfect as the tormented Nobuchi, haunted by events from his past. A neglected masterpiece.....